Body Size The Basis of Sexual Appeal

The questions of beauty ideals have dominated the minds of women across the world and it forcefully controls the perception of women to monitor their weight and maintain certain thinness. A typical semi nomadic woman of the Saharan Arab has for several years cherished her feminine ideals of body shape. Ideally, she is obligated to become extremely fat a factor that determines her attitudes as regard to sexual appeal to her men folk. To a Moor, voluptitious immobility and big bodies is thought to be the aspect that beautifies a girls body, heighten her sexuality, hasten her onset of puberty and thus ripen her for marriage. Drawing closely from Popenoes narrative Feeding the Desires, this paper seeks to concisely describe a day in the life an Azawagh woman in the Arab culture. With regard to this, the paper will construct a character, Zainabu and explore the intricacies of her daily life within the precincts of the cultural obligation of this culture with emphasis on sexuality and marriage preparation as an important element in achieving an anthropological understanding of Azawagh people and culture.

By demonstrating how fatness as a correct body ideal determines how she is treated and viewed in Azawagh culture, Zainabu has accepted to live within the social structures of the Moors without questioning its cultural logics. Knowing that she is expected to eat in quantity to achieve body fatness, Zainabu is now obligated to continue maintaining her body size towards fatness. Accordingly, her breakfast is composite of huge bowls of porridge and milk to basically prepare her body for her would be man. In light of Feeding Desires by Popenoe, such activities are among the few examples of female fattening (Popenoe, 2003164-167).Apparently, Zainabu is not happy about such practice and in the revolutionized world, she feels like her freedom is curtailed because she thinks that by virtue of her position as a woman, she is condemned to be dictated by her cultural paradigms.

However, eating heavily is something Zainabu has come to accept. Her commitment to this routine-like form of dietary postulates that she understands that it is the only way she will be a sexual and cultural preference to men. Arguably, Popenoe (2003 113-118) analysis the meaning attached to women fatness. Somehow, this is how Zainabu has developed her attitude. All her activities from dusk to dawn are governed by her sense of fatness. Essentially, women fatness is constituted by the desire concepts of health, kinship Islam and possibly
Zainabus social need to manage her sexuality.
Considering the gender roles spelt out in Azawagh Arab culture, Zainabu is therefore be submissive and subservient to any masculine demand. She engages in certain ritualistic activities that are geared towards her preparation for marriage. Indeed, Zainabu obviously refrains from any assertive engagement that may point her as assertive or culturally rebellious because she fears being labeled a deviant, misfit and trouble shooter.  Her mother reprimands her for voicing her concerns especially in a simple scuffle that involves her and other male children. Evidently, any attempt of lack of submissiveness is seen as a cultural taboo which when she does, she becomes a point of disparage. Ideally, submissiveness is a quality that that argues Zainabu to be harboring successful sexual responses.

Zainabu and other women conceive of the uninfibulated body as lacking both beauty and propriety and thus she struggles to avoid being thin for fear that her body will make her less able to please her husband if she gets married. However, this is not her concern alone. It is the concern of her mother and all women folk. Popenoe (200387-93) describes that the glorification of thinness in the western world and the concurrently womens conflicted relationship with their bodies and food is a sociological pattern that is directed by culture. Zainabu and other Azawagh women consider fatness ideal for them. To the Moors, the obligation to eat is a pre-marriage tradition that Zainabu must fulfill. Her meal times are not structured in the light of breakfast, lunch and supper. Rather, she eats heavily at every point she deems fit. Her mother began fattening her at a very tender age but now, given that she is of marriageable age, she has taken over the role of fattening her self. In essence, feeding her self fat is her daily work. It is extensively ridiculous that far from the sexual appeal that is pegged on fatness, there is no any other practical reason as to why women must eat to be fat. Ultimately it all lies within the province of aesthetics that invokes both moral and biomedical arguments from sociologists.

The social interactions of Zainabu are inevitably driven by her body shape. This means that the kind of experiences and friends she has are undoubtedly shaped by her fattening ability. This is a clear difference in the western cultures where small body size becomes an option for many women. In reference to Popenoe (200395-99), it is evident that the intersection of class, gender and ethnicity are conspicuous in the body size. Young girls like Zainabu engage in the socialization of their body which works as a determinate to their sexual ability to satisfy a man. She thinks that if her fatness is not to some level, them she will be labeled as weak and exhausted thus, this may eventually make her friends to shy away from accommodating her. At the same time, the body practices of her fatness serve as an opportunity for her to demonstrate her female power as well as cultural success.

Fattening is indeed the daily activity of Zainabu. As Popenoe (2003199-206) asserts, Zainabus work on her body is markedly different from the bodily ideals that has presented women in other parts of the world as oppressed by the pressures of the media as well as the gaze of male. In essence there is a larger social and structural factor that postulates Zainabu and Azawagh women at large, to work on the body ideals in contrary to the global trend. It is indisputable that Zainabu and all women folk are motivated by their cultural obligation to aim at being fatter than it is though in western worlds.. She is portrayed as a passive recipient of her Azawagh Arab culture. The question of fatness is thus the standard of beauty that Zainabu must attain which conspicuously leaves her with one obligation to pursue daily. Primarily, she must give a priority to her cultural preference.

Through her riveting ethnography Feeding Desire, Popenoe gives a clear distinct moral economy among the women of Azawagh culture. To closely clarify the position of Zainabu in the entire issue of fattening, it is plausible to argue  that Zainabu does all her expectation because she knows very well that the material and the ideal meet the womans body through the excessive consumption of food. In addition, women consume only the fruits of mens labour which further embodies sexual allure and the aesthetics through their bodies. Zainabu therefore aims to increase her sexual desirability as she fattens an element that will help her produce children especially sons, who will increase the value and prestige of her husband. This is because women provide the central base for the family.

It is clear that Zainabu is truly not impressed by this cultural benchmark. For instance, their cumbersome bodies, rounded full faces as well as their slow approach indicate that they are cultural slave (Popenoe, 200320). This is something that Zainabu may not openly confess but following her daily activities geared towards feeding, one can easily deduce that she is merely obligated to carry out all that her culture demands of her. Popenoe (2003188) reflects that it would not be true that an Azawagh woman can be free of a conditioned negative association with rolls of fatness and stretch marks. In fact, the diverse perception of beauty among Azawagh women folk may not easily elicit appreciation from the wider international community.

To recap, life among the Azawagh Arab women is about the deliberate attempt to fatten  young girls by relentless fattening them with larger quantities of available milk and grains to possibly keep them as still as possible. A look at Zainabu and how dedicated she and her mother are towards feeding to fatten her  definitely captures the image that this cultural practice is geared towards ultimate achievement of an adult beauty ideal which must be characterized with rolls of stretch marks and fat to symbolically expose her as gorgeous and sexy. Failure to achieve such beauty ideals, it is inevitable that Zainabu will not have any zeyn. His is an Arabic work that is commonly used to connote aspects of both moral goodness and beauty. Zeyn is a mandatory quality in a woman and must always be measured at least physically in light of fat body size. As a result of all this fatness, Zainabu is undoubtedly desirable and any man, who would make her husband, will entirely delight in her for a single reason that she is sexually appealing and exclusively an icon of culturally and moral success. However, this enslaving notion is forcefully and Zainabu sees it as a predetermined practice that she has no say in it. It is something that she must do without choice and somehow, her freedom to liberally chose how she should look is curtailed and thus for most part of her life, she must entirely be immobile within her cultural tent.


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